By Paul Gotham
Less than a week before the Atlantic 10 takes the Barclays Center Court and plenty of questions still remain.Will Saint Louis claim the regular-season title outright? Who will finish top four? How many A-10 teams will reach the NCAA Tournament? Will Dayton get a home game in the NCAA Tournament? All this and more on tap.
This weekend’s games in order of priority.
No. 16/17 Saint Louis (25-5/12-3) at UMass (23-6/10-5) 2 pm Sunday CBS Sports Network
First meeting of the season between a pair of teams which have had their runs in the rankings. The Billikens have dropped three straight but can fall no lower than a first-place tie in the Atlantic 10. UMass has won three of four. Derek Kellogg’s club controls its destiny if the Minutemen want to finish top four in the conference and earn a bye to the quarter-finals. SLU’s Dwayne Evans has been slowed by injury. The Bills struggled last weekend against VCU’s pressure. UMass brings more of the same. After stumbling earlier in conference play losing three of four, the Minutemen have their back underneath themselves. Look for Chaz Williams to seize the opportunity.
UMass by four.
Richmond (18-12/8-7) at Dayton (21-9/9-6) 7 pm Saturday WHIO/CBS 6
The schedule makers were not kind to Chris Mooney’s Richmond Spiders. Less than 48 hours after battling cross-town rival VCU, UR will tip off at UD Arena. One can argue that this is similar to NCAA Tournament schedule except that the Spiders go on the road. Losers of three straight and four of five, Richmond is living a Tom Petty song. Making matters worse for the Spiders, UD has won eight of nine, and the Flyers have an NCAA Tournament bid within reach. Will UD experience a letdown after winning at St. Louis? Probably. But not enough to lose this game. Dyshawn Pierre, Devon Scott and Matt Kavanaugh will expose Richmond’s lack of depth in the frontcourt.
UD by six.
Saint Bonaventure (16-13/6-9) at VCU (23-7/11-4) 7 pm Saturday SNY/CBS 6.3
Sixteen days ago the Bonnies were 6-6 after winning three straight. Two home games remained, and SBU looked ready to finish at least .500 in A-10 play. Since then Bona dropped three straight – all by single digits, all failing to capitalize on late-game opportunities. VCU won three straight in that time and, oh yeah, the Rams haven’t lost in the Siegel Center this season. Bona has 199 steals this season. VCU’s Briante Weber tops the nation with 109 swipes. VCU’s 340 team steals ranks first in the land and no other team is within 40. Could be a long day for the Bonnies. SBU will be playing with heavy hearts after the sudden passing of assistant SID Brian Moretti.
VCU by nine.
La Salle (14-15/6-9) at Saint Joseph’s (21-8/11-4) 4 pm Sunday CBS Sports Network
Saint Joseph’s had first place within their grasp Wednesday but got lost in the depths of “Foggy Bottom.” The Hawks could earn a share of the regular season title with a win and a Saint Louis loss at UMass. SJU had won six consecutive prior to the setback at GW. La Salle, on the other hand, continues to add to their Lady-Gaga-enigma-of-the-A-10 legacy falling at home. On senior night. To George Mason. In the words of the immortal Vince Lombardi. Langston Galloway connected 10 times behind the arc in SJU’s win over Fordham on February 22nd. The senior guard won’t get that many treys, but it might be close.
Saint Joseph’s by three.
George Washington (22-7/10-5) at Fordham (9-19/2-13) Saturday SNY/CSN MA
Duquesne (12-16/4-11) at George Mason (11-18/4-11) 7 pm Saturday MASN